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Dora And The Lost City of Gold Movie Review

A lightweight family adventure with a winning leading lady.

Reviewed by on Aug 09, 2019
Rating: 3 Star Rating

Read Kidzworld’s review of Dora and the Lost City of Gold. Dora has strong morals and a thirst for knowledge. Can you identify with her? Is her adventure worth a trip to the Cineplex? Read our movie review!

By: Lynn Barker

In Dora and the Lost City of Gold, 16-year-old Dora (Isabela Moner) has grown up in a jungle with her explorer/scientist parents Elena (Eva Longoria) and Cole (Michael Pena). Deciding that adventurous Dora needs a taste of the real world, the parents send her to live with her cousin Diego (Jeff Wahlberg) and go to high school in Los Angeles while they search for a lost Incan city in Peru.

A happy family momentA happy family moment

Dora is having enough trouble adjusting when she, Diego and fellow nerds very smart Sammy (Madeleine Madden), who sees Dora’s intelligence as threat and awkward Randy (Nicholas Coombe) who is attracted to her, are kidnapped by mercenaries and end up back in South America searching for her parents and the lost Incan city.

Dora And The Lost City of Gold Movie Trailer


Jungle Beginnings

In a South American jungle, six-year-old Dora and her cousin Diego play, explore, learn and frolic but Diego leaves to go back to Los Angeles while Dora continues to be home-schooled and live with her parents in their posh jungle stronghold.

Dora is an expert jungle navigatorDora is an expert jungle navigatorCourtesy of Paramount Pictures

Ten years later, 16-year-old Dora is an expert jungle navigator who pretends she has an audience while living and video-documenting her fantasy dream of hosting an adventure show in the rainforest with her fave monkey Boots. When her parents find clues to the location of the lost Incan city of Parapata in Peru, they make a big decision.

Dora is told she has to go to L.A. to high schoolDora is told she has to go to L.A. to high school

Off to L.A.

Wanting to keep Dora safe and worrying that she will be a social outcast without interacting with kids her own age, the parents send her off to live with her childhood friend/cousin Diego in Los Angeles.

At school Dora greets cousin DiegoAt school Dora greets cousin Diego

She’ll go to a regular high school. They tell her to just be herself. Dora finds high school overwhelming and it doesn’t help that, being new and weirdly different, she is teased, made-over and generally mean-girl dissed. She meets fellow outcasts, bright girl Sammy and awkward science dork Randy. Diego seems embarrassed by everything Dora does. She behaves like she is studying some rare, isolated tribe of jungle natives.

One of the many embarrassing school momentsOne of the many embarrassing school moments

Field Trip and Kidnap

Dora feels alone and keeps in touch with her parents on a two-way radio that they use to update their daughter on their location when they can. After months of communication, the radio goes silent which doesn’t scare Dora until she, Diego, Sammy and Randy end up getting kidnapped during a field trip to the Natural History Museum by greedy mercenaries who want to use Dora as a tracker to find her parents and the lost city’s golden treasure.

The kidnapped groupThe kidnapped groupCourtesy of Paramount Pictures

Alejandro (Eugenio Derbez), a professor friend of Dora’s parents, rescues the kids when they reach South America and they make a bumpy escape into the jungle where Alejandro freaks out about nearly everything. They have to find Dora’s parents before the mercenary baddies get to fabled Parapata.

Dora teaches Alejandro how to read jungle cluesDora teaches Alejandro how to read jungle cluesCourtesy of Paramount Pictures

Jungle Adventures

While in the jungle, the group is almost drowned in a temple trap, survives noisy quicksand, is almost eaten by several jungle “monsters”, has hallucinations, meets Swiper, a threatening, thieving, talking fox….in a mask and finally, with Dora in the lead, starts to put together mystery puzzles that will finally lead to Dora’s parents and that amazing lost golden city. How will the kids beat the mercenaries to the city and manage to find Dora’s parents?

Dora finds clues in her parents' notesDora finds clues in her parents' notes

Wrapping Up

As a little pre-schooler you might have watched the “Dora the Explorer” animated  Nick TV show in which perky, cute very young Latina Dora taught us cool things and helped us solve puzzles while on adventures.  Now live action Dora is in high school but she’s the same education-crazed, very moral, curious adventuress who had rather learn new things about an old civilization than be a gold-digging mercenary treasure hunter.

Step here or it's a trap!Step here or it's a trap!Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Isabela Moner does a great job of playing the spunky teen as she talks to the camera in Spanish a few times “Can you say delicioso?”  and whips up songs on the spot.  The cute monkey and fox from the original series seem out of place but should appeal to younger kids.

Boots the monkey plays with his bootsBoots the monkey plays with his bootsCourtesy of Paramount Pictures

Swiper the thieving foxSwiper the thieving fox

Despite some silly slapstick stumbles and fart jokes in the jungle by over-the-top Eugenio Derbez playing Alejandro, the film is also a 1980’s (Goonies, Indiana Jones, later Tomb Raider), warm, PG family adventure although the tone (mean-girl comedy, coming of age tale, cartoony adventure….what?) is uneven. There are some entertaining action sequences but you feel like you’ve seen most of them before in other adventure “jungle” films.

Solving a temple puzzleSolving a temple puzzle

Various lessons are learned: Be yourself in the face of peer pressure, have faith in your abilities, learning is actually fun, etc.

Dora solves another jungle mysteryDora solves another jungle mystery

Teens might think the movie is too squeaky clean (despite the fart jokes) but younger tweens and kids might get into it. Isabela Moner’s Dora is so sweet and perky that it is hard not to. We award a sturdy three stars.

Dora And The Lost City of Gold Movie Rating: 3

Dora And The Lost City of Gold Movie PosterCourtesy of Paramount Pictures

See Dora And The Lost City of Gold in theaters now!

Be Adventurous! Leave a comment!

Have you ever watched the “Dora the Explorer” animated adventures on TV? Are you okay that Dora is a live-action teen in this movie? Where would you most like to go on your own adventure? Let everyone know!